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Veteran softball team opens play in Florida

The Bates College softball team begins its 2012 season with a six-game trip to Florida this week, beginning with games against Fredonia State and Westfield State today.

Returning nine seniors, two juniors, and one sophomore, this year’s veteran squad has a bright outlook for the season.

"With so many returning players, our team chemistry and camaraderie will play a key role in our success," said senior co-captain Lauren Dobish (Chambersburg, Pa.).

Senior pitcher Kristen Finn (Winthrop, Mass.) will be anchoring the Bobcats' pitching staff, returning to the mound for her final season. Joining Finn on the mound are first-years Kelsey Freedman (Falmouth, Maine) and Brenna Callahan (Milton, Mass.). Freedman will bring consistent accuracy and Callahan will bring a change of speeds and a lefty spin to the pitching rotation. "We're confident that we will be a threat in the NESCAC this season," said Finn.

Also returning for their final season are Dobish, fellow captain Leah Maciejewski (Tewksbury, Mass.), Libby King (South Portland, Maine), Kiley Webster (Bethesda, Md.), Courtney Talcott (Sutton, Mass.), Kelly McManus (Plymouth, N.H.), and Karen Ullmann (Ramsey, N.J.). Maciejewski led the team in home runs (2) and RBIs (19) in 2011 while hitting .341. Ullmann, Bates' all-time leader in triples, hit .390 in 2011 while leading the club in on-base percentage (.495), slugging percentage (.519) and stolen bases (14-for-15).

Plagued by injury for the past two and a half seasons, senior Kelsey Flaherty (South Portland, Maine) rejoins the squad in the infield. Dobish and Maciejewski are expected to keep their place in the meat of the batting order as they reprise their captain roles. Webster, Talcott, McManus, and Ullmann’s speed will prove to be more than enough defensive support. King’s power at the plate will be essential to the season’s success.

Junior AnnaMarie Martino’s (Plymouth, Minn.) role behind the plate brings aggressiveness and stability to the defensive lineup. Martino led the Bobcats in batting average last season, at .424. Fellow junior Mary Lewis (Gardiner, Maine) will continue to be a solid wall down the line at third base. The Bobcats' lone sophomore, Alayna Garbarino (Reading, Mass.), will prove to be a true utility player, expecting to have success at second and first.

Having trained for the past month indoors, the team is anxious to get outside and begin playing in the warm weather for the next three days. "With off-season team lifts, captains' practices, and the addition of our new strength and conditioning coach [Rebecca Kimball], we are excited to finally play on dirt," said Maciejewski.